Too often I will roll my eyes at the images in a homes magazine – the pictures are styled to death, you just know the stylist bought in half the furniture and accessories, and a lot of the time they even had clothes borrowed and hair and make-up expertly applied. I know all of this and it bugs me. Just like those darn photoshopped celebrities. And yet… when Real Living editor Deb basically forced me to have my home shot for the mag’s renovation special (”We’ve been waiting for you for YEARS. It must be finished now!” ), I couldn’t help but hope Sarah, the stylist, would wave her magic stylist’s wand and make the house, the styling, the family… better. I wanted clothes brought in (being a week out from my due date, I didn’t exactly have a lot to choose from). I hoped she’d bring a truckload of goodies to sprinkle through my house to make it seem a little more special. I looked forward to her whisking around my home moving this here and that there to make it look more magazine-worthy. And I was disappointed budget restraints years ago had culled hair and make-up funding – I was on my own.
So when she arrived with a bag of cushions and throws in one arm and bunch of flowers in the other and declared that’s all she had, I was slightly disappointed. And when my hair refused to dry into its usual nice waves and frizzed in the heat, I was sad my “at home with” pictures were not going to rival Gwyneth’s House & Garden ones. So after they left, I worried: would it be good enough to get a run? (hey, it’s happened!) Would it look a little amateur next to architect’s and stylist’s and awesomely stylish people’s homes? Would I just look like a big fat scruffy blob? But then I slapped myself silly and gave myself a stern talking to: not only was it Real Living – and a renovation-tips story at that – but I AM Real Living through and through.
Ever since I worked on the launch issue, I was pretty much considered the official representative of the people: I AM the Real Living reader. As the deputy editor, if the price was too high, the style too unattainable, the piece too designery, the copy too technical, the project too unrealistic, it was my job to do my best to make it more “real” and have a whine about making sure it didn’t happen again. So if my home suddenly looked all perfection and too different to how it appears on my blog, if I looked like I had my shit enough together to blowdry my hair and have perfect angel children eating an impressive homecooked meal or sitting soldier-style at the table, I’d be a hypocrite.
Because I barely had enough time to make the beds, straighten the house and dress the kids and myself before they arrived. And the reason there is no impressive meal on the table is because there was no food in the house (I spent the day before cleaning, not shopping). Not even eggs, hence the empty egg cups, or fruit, hence the bare fruit bowl. And the only way Layla would even consider having her photo taken was if she wore her tutu and played with the blue golf ball (which is still on the benchtop). And then there is the matter of the filthy dirty tabletop… I swear this was clean on the day. But the dark wood, light showing up the streakmarks and the fact I’m not even close to a cleaning goddess resulted in this atrociously dirty looking table that my good friend Bi – the retoucher – didn’t magically retouch away.
And so… the house images you see in Real Living this month are very much “real”. Sarah simply moved a couple of things around and added a cushion or throw here and there. I have to admit it was very hard not having the control that I do when I style and photograph my own place for the blog. I kept going to say “why not shoot this? Or pull back more? Or shoot on this angle?” but bit my tongue – they had their instructions so I had to butt out! I think the pictures could have showed a bit more of the renovation side of things, but overall I’m happy it looks like us, looks like my house and am completely chuffed to have it featured in not just any magazine, but MY magazine (I still consider myself part of the team! hehe). I’ve always said we could have made the place slicker, much more modern and a little more “user-friendly”, but that’s not us. And if your place doesn’t feel comfortable to you, what’s the point in living there?
In a small attempt to help save the publishing industry that I love so much, I won’t post the full images and scans here until it’s offsale in a month. But, I will send you to the website where you can read 10 lessons I learnt while renovating. I’ll go through my ridiculous amounts of supplied copy later on and share what didn’t get published in another post. And to milk the feature for all its worth, I’ll do a small behind-the-scenes post too when I get a chance.
Until then, enjoy your copy of the mag. I’m off to buy a few copies today (I haven’t even seen it in the flesh yet; just PDFs I made the office send me and sweet Julie’s snaps of the feature). Might have to leave an open copy casually lying around on “open for inspection” days when the house goes on the market! hehe